New to Ontario, but not new to Quebec or Manitoba, is the opening of two birth centers – run by midwives and acting as a pilot project, which if successful will likely change how women give birth in Ontario.
“On Tuesday, Ontario women moved a step closer to having that third option when Premier Dalton McGuinty announced plans to launch the province’s first two birth centers.” (Toronto Star)
A birth center is a place where women can give birth with a midwife, aimed at expectant mothers who want to give birth naturally within a community setting. Many women do not want to be in a hospital, but are also not comfortable giving birth at home. A birthing center would offer another option for them to consider.
Many midwives and midwifery advocates feel that birthing centers are long over-due. Many women are not comfortable in hospitals since hospitals are places with diseases or bacteria associated with illness. Pregnant and birthing women are not sick and there are a lot of women who question the institutional and medical structure that puts birthing women in the same facilities as those with illnesses. Also, hospitals have a very high rate of interventions like c-sections and birthing centers aim at reducing these high numbers by focusing on natural childbirth.
Birthing centers will result in cost savings to the health care system since the sites itself will need less cost to be maintained and they will also reduce medical interventions, which are costly. McGuinty stated that if this pilot project is successful, than it will lay a foundation for more birth centers throughout the province. Further to that, birth centers will likely allow more women to access midwifery care since as seen in the Toronto Star, midwives are forced to turn away approximately 40 percent of the women who are seeking care, partly due to the cap on the number of hospital deliveries they can attend.
Bottom line is that birthing women need safer places to give birth and more options for them to choose from. If a woman wants a midwife and a natural birth, there should be more structures in place that support her. Our current structure of giving birth in the hospital is inadequate for many women and costly to the medical system.
Many places in the world, like the Netherlands, have had birthing centers for many years and have a reputation for excellent, cost-effective maternity care.
A big step forward for Ontario midwives and birthing women!